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What are the benefits and risks of suing your landlord?

If you own a small business, you know that the rent you pay on a commercial property is significant -- which means that it's important to get what you're paying for each month.

Unfortunately, not all landlord-tenant matches are made in heaven. When something goes wrong (like incomplete repairs, an illegal eviction or the property becomes uninhabitable for some reason), commercial tenants often find themselves in the unenviable position of having to decide if they're going to simply cut their losses, "pick up shop" and move to a new location or sue their landlord.

If you're in that spot, here are the things you need to consider:

Suing could prevent you from having to move

If your business location really works for you and moving could damage your profits, it may be worth the trouble to fight the legal issue out with your landlord rather than move.

It could restore the money you are owed

If you're already out a lot of money because of the landlord's actions, your only hope of recovery might be through a lawsuit. The odds are good the landlord won't voluntarily return your money.

Suing may prompt a settlement

Sometimes, a demand letter with the threat of a lawsuit is enough to make a landlord see reason. You may have to compromise on what you want, but that way both of you avoid the inconveniences of an actual lawsuit.

You could face a countersuit

Sometimes, the threat of a lawsuit -- or an actual lawsuit -- prompts the other party to countersue. That usually happens when each party is equally convinced they are in the right, and there's no room for negotiation.

Ultimately, suing your commercial landlord is a big decision. If you're unsure of what's in your best interests, it might be wise to talk to someone experienced in commercial real estate law before you decide.

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